US-based marketer and CEO of the Draft marketing agency, Howard Draft, has expounded three "universal truths" about direct mail, all of which he says are facts that direct marketers can use to build their businesses.
According to Draft, while the marketing mantra has always been "The customer is king", the customer has adopted a new position, changing the mantra to "The customer is a dictator".
"Consumers have - and are wielding - unprecedented control over their relationships with marketers," explained Draft, addressing the National Postal Forum in Washington DC, USA. "TiVo and other personal video recorders allow them to skip right over ad messages. Call screening, do-not-call registries, and call-blocking keep dinner-time phone calls away. Internet SPAM laws, pop-up blockers and customised browser pages limit web marketing, too."
In just a few years, consumers have gone from switching TV channels to switching all media channels on and off at will. And that's why, according to Draft, so many businesses are starting to emphasize direct mail in their marketing budgets.
To demonstrate why he believes direct mail is the way forward in today's marketing landscape, Draft identified what he feels are three universal truths about direct mail:
- Invitation beats intrusion:
Consumers have made it clear that the best way to capture their attention and loyalty is through invitation, not through intrusion. Direct mail is inviting, not intrusive. More than half of all adults say they prefer to receive advertising and promotional material through the mail, according to the US Direct Marketing Association (DMA). With mail, consumers can decide when or if they want to take in the information presented.
- The internet is not direct mail's enemy:
Mail and the web create a powerful bond with the consumer - stronger than either can do separately. Almost one-third of people surveyed said they respond to direct mail by going online, according to the DMA. And a recent US Postal Service survey reported that almost one-quarter of respondents said they visited a web site specifically because they received mail from that retailer. Pointing to the growth in online catalogue sales as well as the increase in high speed internet subscribers - resulting in more shoppers enjoying faster, easier buying experiences - Draft argues that within 5 to 10 years, these two media will dominate the landscape, particularly due to their special relationship to each other, and because other media will continue to fade in power.
- 'Mail moments' are powerful:
According to Draft, the daily 'mail moment' (the time when you go through your mail) makes a connection like no other. "People are starved for something real," said Draft. "Because of the digital world most of us live in, people are hungry for something permanent. People are open, eager, and waiting to get some tangible form of communication." Meanwhile, direct marketers, aided by database mining and segmentation, are getting better than ever at choosing who should get their message. The challenge to marketers is to leverage people's need for mail in the digital world, and to own mail moments from the beginning (when an offer is made) to the end (when it is delivered).
Looking forward, Draft points to the expanding use of direct mail by small businesses, pharmaceutical firms, business-to-business marketers, multicultural marketers, and emerging markets, all of which have great potential drive direct mail usage. He also noted that the marketing industry is far from realising direct mail's full potential from a creative standpoint, citing successful campaigns from around the world for both large and small marketers.
Other industry statistics Draft highlighted included:
- According to the DMA, direct mail is still the No. 1 marketing method used by marketers;
- Postal mail is still the preferred method of contact for the vast majority of consumers, according to the DMA;
- Almost three-quarters (74%) of all households in the USA expect to get direct mail every day, according to the US Postal Service;
- The US Postal Service also reports that 59% of people expect to receive catalogues in the mail every day;
- Additionally, more than half of consumers (57%) fully anticipate that their next trip to the store or shopping mall will be affected by what they receive in the mail.
"If consumers open their mailbox and there's nothing there, there's a good chance they are going to be disappointed", Draft said. "Marketers almost owe it to them to send something."